Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bar Church

As adolescents we were warned to keep a safe distance from the lures of the world: alcohol, drugs, and sex. Given our developmental fragility, it wasn't bad advice. Logically, then, we were most likely to succeed if we also separated ourselves from those who didn't keep a safe distance from alcohol, drugs, and sex. This safe distance, however, made the actual practice of loving anyone whose behavior didn't mirror ours more than a little unwieldy.

As we moved into adulthood we understood clearly that loving God and loving people were our cardinal directives. Unfortunately, we simply had no idea how to engage with the people we'd always been warned to avoid.

The Gospel examples of Jesus looked very different from anything I'd ever seen practiced by the religious. Instead of backing away cautiously, the way I'd learned to do, Jesus moved toward those who'd been identified as disreputable sinners. Not only did Jesus not treat them as being worth less than the righteous, the way I'd been groomed to do, he actually went to a lot of trouble to insist that these sinners were worth so much that his Father spared no expense in His dogged pursuit of them. Jesus' unexpected behavior both surprised his closest friends and outraged the religious.

Mirroring Jesus' own unbridled affection for sinners means for you and me living out the confounding reality of a God who, ignoring self-interest, takes on flesh to be with sinners, for sinners.

The Southern Hills church is launching Bar Church on March 23. It's just what the name suggests... a church that meets in a bar. The mission of Bar Church is to take the Gospel of Jesus to people who are unwilling, as a result of feelings of unworthiness or prior negative experiences with a church, to participate in a traditional church gathering within a traditional church setting. We want to go outside the walls of a church building in order to seek out and share the Gospel of Jesus with the unchurched by meeting them in a setting where they would gather and consider non-threatening.

Pray for Bar Church.